Chapter Thirteen

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Sunny finished getting ready while Mathew quickly dressed and loaded the picnic basket in the vehicle. Upon returning, he gave the interior a once over glance. His zeroed in on the plaid blanket, lying in a heap in front of the fireplace. He retrieved it, folding it as he walked back outside. Within a minute, he stashed it inside the picnic basket then closed the back of the SUV. He checked his watch. They had plenty of time before his buddy RJ would be ready with the surprise that Mathew had been planning for weeks. His heart beat rapidly, and he wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans. He walked back up the steps of the cabin just as Sunny opened the door. She pulled her jacket on, giving him a big smile.

"I'm ready." She held up the carrot.

"Me too."

"What about breakfast?" she asked.

"It's all taken care of. Now then Mrs. Ellis, shall we?"

They drove down through the hills of the property, taking in the beautiful scenery. Everything looked fresh and new in the early morning light. They stopped beside a small stream in a remote clearing and hereached and gave her hand a squeeze.

"Here we are." He reached for the door handle. Quickly, he made it around to the passenger side and helped Sunny out.

"What a gorgeous morning." She surveyed the best nature had to offer.

"Breakfast is served." He said with a smile, as he pulled the picnic basket from the back of the vehicle.

"Mathew, this is really sweet of you but I still don't understand what the carrot has to do with a picnic."

"That's because this is just breakfast, not the surprise. Food first, then the surprise." Mathew unfolded the blanket and spread it out neatly on the grass.

Sunny searched the basket. "Warm scones?"

"Prepared with love. Actually prepared yesterday by Leo." He laughed.

"You aren't going to torture me with coffee, are you?" She asked, taking two different Thermos bottles from the basket.

"One is coffee, the other is hot chocolate--with a dash of almond flavoring, just the way you like it."

The minutes disappeared, along with the morning dew on the grass, as they enjoyed breakfast and each other in the solitude of the quiet wood. The air was invigorating, and fall wrapped its crisp and inviting arms around them. Mathew couldn't help staring at her. The rays of sunlight moved through her hair and she glowed, as the beams created a halo around her head. His eyes traveled down to her hands and the fingers wrapped delicately around her mug. Her wedding ring winked up at him. Is she really mine? It was a question he asked himself constantly. As he sipped his coffee, his thoughts traveled back in time to a woman in a wheelchair. He'd only seen her twice, once at the elevator and once in the park, but he knew. She'd changed him—just as easily as the seasons change, bringing with them a new beginning.

"You know what? I was wrong." He fixed his eyes firmly on her face.

"About what?" she asked.

"When I told you that my favorite season was spring. I was wrong."

"So what is your favorite season?"

"It's fall."

"Oh, I think I love fall too. It's the change in the air. There's something about it that makes you feel so refreshed. I mean, it takes forever for fall to make it Texas but when it does, there's nothing better." She breathed deeply, closing her eyes as she slowly exhaled.

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